how has the government sent millions of text messages to the French?

how has the government sent millions of text messages to the French?

© Copyright 2020, L’Obs

It is surprising to receive a message from the government on his personal phone. But Monday evening, after Emmanuel Macron’s announcements on containment measures To curb the coronavirus epidemic, millions of French people have received an SMS from the recipient “” announcing these new rules.

LIVE. Edouard Philippe at JT de France 2 this Tuesday eveningCovid-19 alert. The President of the Republic has announced strict rules that you must follow to fight the spread of the virus and save lives. Outings are authorized with certificate and only for your work, if you cannot telecommute, your health or your essential errands. All the information on ”, explains the message. But how did the government manage to send it to the French?

    How were the numbers recovered?

As screenshots of the famous message multiplied on social media, many Internet users expressed concern over the way their number was acquired. Would the state have files filled with the phone numbers of its citizens?

The answer is no, and it is simpler than it seems: the government has asked the telephone operators (Orange, Bouygues, SFR, Free) to send its message to all their subscribers. This system is provided for by the Post and Electronic Communications Code for “The routing of government communications to the public to warn of imminent dangers or to mitigate the effects of major disasters.”

    How were the messages sent?

According to lawyer Alexandre Archambault, specialist in telecom and digital issues, the government has used the “SMS-MT” or “mobile terminated”.

These are commercial offers that allow you to send marketing text messages, details the lawyer at Check News. Except that normally these campaigns concern a maximum of a few million people for the most ambitious. As we jump to 80 million, we had to smooth the shipment. So it can take time. Each operator has its own operation, by wave or progressively.

What explain why some users received the SMS from the government in the morning of Tuesday, several hours after the first wave.

The government has so far made no comments on how this message was disseminated. Other techniques could therefore have been used, such as that of “Cell broadcast”, a system that sends alerts by cell broadcast, used in particular by the United States, Canada and the Netherlands.

Nothing illegal a priori in this shipment from the government, even if the consent of the people was not requested. The European Data Protection Regulation thus provides that the consent of the user is not required if the use of his data is for “Safeguard vital interests”, especially in the event of an epidemic or natural disaster, as the Cnil explains.


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